Huskies to Make History?

Washington has had USC's number the past two seasons under Steve Sarkisian. It's as if the former Trojan Offensive Coordinator has been taken his knowledge of Troy and been able to use it against his former employer to two of the biggest wins so far in his young tenure. Could it be a three-peat Saturday? The last time they did that - 1990-92, UW also happened to win three-straight Rose Bowls.


KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:45 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/12/11
SITE: Los Angeles Coliseum
SERIES: USC leads 49-28-4 (last meeting, 2010, Washington 32-31)
RECORDS: Washington 6-3, 4-2 Pac-12, USC 7-2, 4-2 Pac-12
POLLS: USC (No. 18 AP)

-- For Washington: Protect the passer. UW was unable to do that last week against Oregon, allowing six sacks, pressure that put a big crimp in UW's offensive game plan. Conversely, the Huskies need to get to USC QB Matt Barkley to get him out of his rhythm.

-- For USC: Slow down RB Chris Polk. Washington will feed the ball as much as possible to Polk, who has power and speed, and is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. The Huskies have a balanced offense, but it's better for the Trojans to take their chances against the passing game.

Washington's biggest challenge this week will come up front with an offensive line that struggled against Oregon and now faces a USC front four that on paper may be even more talented. USC ranks third in the conference in rushing defense. However, the Trojans don't get a lot of sacks, so the Huskies may be able to buy some time for QB Keith Price if they can protect better. Coach Steve Sarkisian said the line had numerous assignment and communication errors against Oregon as well as just getting beaten often physically in allowing six sacks. UW also needs a better effort out of running back Chris Polk, who was held to 80 yards against Oregon.

Washington played decently on defense against Oregon, holding the Ducks to 381 yards overall and 34 points, both far below Oregon's averages. USC, however, will present a different challenge running a pro-style offense similar to that of UW's and powered by QB Matt Barkley, who has thrown for 12 touchdowns the last three games. That will put the onus on UW to get some pressure on Barkley something the Huskies have struggled with all season, ranking ninth in the conference with 15. The good news for UW is that DT Alameda Ta'amu appears to be playing better and providing some push up front and as a senior with NFL potential he should be highly motivated to perform well on a big stage.

Despite what Washington coach Steve Sarkisian says, USC QB Matt Barkley isn't as good an NFL prospect as Stanford's Andrew Luck, but Barkley might be next in line, should he chose to come out after this season. Barkley, with better mobility and command of the offense this season, is beginning to show up on some top-10 Heisman lists after his six-TD performance last week. Coach Lane Kiffin nitpicks that Barkley could be more accurate on the deep ball, but that aspect of his game has improved greatly since he was a freshman starter. Washington has only 14 sacks through nine games, so Barkley should have ample time to find speedy WRs Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

USC hasn't been a sack-happy unit on defense, although DE Nick Perry is having a nice season with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. The good news is that the Trojans' front four is talented -- and its young linebacker corps is very promising -- helping make USC strong against the run. The Trojans, who will be trying to stop Washington RB Chris Polk -- probably the best all-around back in the conference -- rank 18th nationally by allowing 106.4 rushing yards per game. CB Nickell Robey and S T.J. McDonald have each played well in the secondary, and the team's top tacklers are freshmen -- Dion Bailey (67) and Hayes Pullard (51).

Huskies: Washington is going for its third consecutive win over USC. The Huskies are trying for to win games in consecutive appearances at the LA Memorial Coliseum for the first time since 1937. A change in the conference schedule due to the addition of Utah and Colorado resulted in a quirk that is sending the Huskies to USC for two straight years. USC will come back to UW in 2012. ... Last year, UW was able to come back when USC missed a short field goal late that could have put it ahead by five. Instead, UW had just enough time to come down and kick a field goal to win by one. ... UW has lost two of its last three but still has won 10 of its last 13 games, its best stretch since the 2000-2001 seasons. ... UW coach Steve Sarkisian was an assistant at USC for all but one year from 2001-2008 before becoming head coach at UW. He is 2-0 against USC beating Pete Carroll in 2009 and Lane Kiffin in 2010. ... QB Keith Price has leveled off a little since his monstrously hot start to the season and has thrown six interceptions in the last three games. He appeared to be settling too quickly to throw to his primary receiver last week and he admitted he has to be quicker about looking to his secondary receivers. He also has been hit a lot and was sacked six times last week.

Trojans: The game against Washington begins a closing stretch for USC that will hold its interest and largely define the season. After this game, the Trojans play a national spotlight game at Oregon, followed by a home game against rival UCLA, which could hold division title hopes for the Bruins. ... Washington coach Steve Sarkisian and USC coach Lane Kiffin spent five seasons together as Trojans assistants. ... WR Robert Woods is the only player in the nation in the top 6 in receptions (90), receiving yards (1,121), and all-purpose yards (1,589) and is on pace for the Pac-12 record in receptions. He has 11 touchdown catches. ... QB Matt Barkley is coming a record six-touchdown pass game. ... Sophomore RB Dillon Baxter is no longer with the team, the school announced last week. Dillon had fallen out of favor with coach Lane Kiffin, carrying only nine times for 29 yards this season.

WR Kasen Williams -- A true freshman who last year was named Parade Magazine's Player of the Year, Williams had his best game as a Husky last week with six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, shrugging off a nagging ankle injury. Expect UW to continue to find ways to get him more involved. At 6-2, 212 he proves a big target and his forte at the moment is shorter and intermediate routes.

SS Sean Parker -- Another LA native who will be excited to return home, Parker has become maybe UW's most consistent defensive back of late and will be called on again to be a sure tackler and make sure plays stay in front of the defense.

FS Will Shamburger -- The redshirt freshman is also from the LA area, and has made the first two starts of his career in the last two games and had nine tackles against Oregon Saturday.

LB Lamar Dawson -- The true freshman is the new starter at middle linebacker, supplanting senior Chris Galippo, although coach Lane Kiffin said the players likely will rotate for the rest for the rest of the season.

WR Marqise Lee -- He's the second fiddle to WR Robert Woods, but he's quite a second fiddle. Lee, a true freshman, continues to emerge, and he has 43 catches for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Lee had nine catches for 124 yards and two scores in last week's game at Colorado.

PK Andre Heidari -- The true freshman has made 13-of-15 field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder. He has made all 34 of his PAT tries. Perhaps he and USC can turn the tables on Washington this season and kick a late field goal for the win.

Huskies: WR James Johnson (ankle, probable).

Trojans: LB Dion Bailey (concussion, questionable), R Marc Tyler (shoulder, probable), S Jawanza Starling (undisclosed, probable), RB George Farmer (ankle, game-time decision), CB Torin Harris (shoulder, doubtful). Top Stories